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Even in this miserable condition that Paul is experiencing, he was very concerned of his beloved student Timothy

Jay Catane

Historical Background of the Second Epistle to Timothy

by Corregidor Catane Jr.

Historical Setting

Authorship and Date

The Second Epistle to Timothy is considered by scholars as part of the Pastoral Epistles which includes the First Epistle to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus. “On the premise of Pauline authorship, the Pastorals were written toward the end of Paul’s life, about A.D. 62-64.”[1]

 

Historical Conditions/Circumstances

Paul’s condition in writing this letter is unimaginable. He has been spending time in prison, some Christian friends and co-workers are treating him roughly (1:16-18) and, “Others,” wrote Lea and Griffin, “ perhaps ‘false brothers’, had abused and deserted him”[2] (4:14-16). All of these things made Paul’s condition miserable to the point that has been contemplating his imminent death (4:6-8) as he was writing this letter to Timothy.[3]

Even in this miserable condition that Paul is experiencing, he was very concerned of his beloved student Timothy to the point of thinking and praying for him, night and day (1:3). This concerns came out of Paul because he knew that what he is experiencing now, will one day be experienced by his beloved mentor and friend. Therefore, with this intimate relationship that they both had, together with the wide experience of Paul in the ministry, this letter was written. The main purpose of this letter is to confirm “his apostleship in writing in order to strengthen and encourage his beleaguered and sometimes fainthearted young friend and to undergird the authority of Timothy’s leadership and teaching.”[4]

 

Cultural Background

The city of Ephesus is actually a very strategic place for banking and commerce that is why it was considered as a very prosperous capital province of Asia. Its name may have been taken from a Greek goddess known as Artemis Ephesia  which also implies that this city is very idolatrous in nature. It was believed that Priscilla and Aquila, together with Apollos were the founder of this church although Paul was the first to preach an evangelistic message there. The people in this place are very violent against Christianity because of their devotion to Artemis, whose Roman name is Diana, yet through the victory in ministry in Ephesus, many churches were founded in the different places in Asia.[5]

Since this city was very important, Paul actually stayed there for three years (Acts 20:31). This happened during his third journey wherein his ministry was very influential to the point that “those who practiced witchcraft turned to Christ and burned their books of magical incantations, many people were won to the worship of the true God; and the profits of the silversmiths (those who sold shrines of Diana) were greatly undermined”[6]. As a result of this miraculous ministry, a violent riot exploded against Paul and against the Word of God which led to his unplanned exit.[7]

 

Bibliography

MacArthur, John F. Introduction to The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.

Lea, Thomas D., and Griffin, Hayne Jr., P. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. vol. 34 of The New American Commentary. Nashville Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1992.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993.

Evans, Craig A., and Porter, Stanley E., eds. Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Wiersbe, Warren W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992.

[1] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 607.

[2] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, Jr., 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34 of The New American Commentary (Nashville Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1992), 44.

[3] Ibid.

[4] John MacArthur, Introduction to the New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), ix.

[5] Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, eds., Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000) 318-321.

[6] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 536-537.

[7] Ibid.

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